Reconstructing your faith

Deconstruction is a hot topic these days. So-called evangelicals are hotly against it, of course, because what people are deconstructing is the phony-baloney pop religion evangelicals pass off as genuine Christianity.

Deconstruction is the process of examining your faith critically to determine if it still makes sense to you, and if it doesn’t to wonder why, and to seek something better to replace it.

To those who have been attending churches where you are expected to check your brain at the door and blindly follow whatever the local cult leader tells you, this process almost inevitably leads to destruction. That’s why so many evangelical leaders are so solidly against it. They have nothing to gain by it, and a lot to lose.

So much for Anselm’s notion that Christianity is “faith seeking understanding.” To so many evangelicals, it’s more like “faith avoiding understanding.”

And, having been nourished so long on watery skim milk of evangelicalism rather than the nourishing solid food of the genuine gospel, many who follow the process of deconstruction end up in destruction.

That is, they renounce Christianity entirely, or they retire to a languid “spiritual but not religious” passivity.

However, true deconstruction should lead to reconstruction. It should lead to reformation.

It’s often been described as a three-step process: orientation, disorientation, reorientation. Other terms are sometimes used, but the process is the same.

Orientation is where you start. You know where you are. You know what you believe. Until one day, you realize that you don’t. You don’t recognize your faith anymore. You don’t recognize yourself anymore.

You are now officially in disorientation. It’s a tough place to be in, but it still holds promise. It’s time to start examining things. Time to see where you really stand. Time to discern what you really believe. Time to learn whom you really trust.

And if the one you trust is not Jesus, you may be stuck in disorientation more or less forever. If you discover that you really don’t trust wholly in Jesus, you may end up in destruction, or what 1 Timothy 1:19 describes as spiritual shipwreck.

But if you can discover that you really do trust wholly in Jesus, and not in some cobbled-together fundamentalist construct of him, then you are on the road to reorientation. You are on the Way to learning how to follow Jesus and live the exciting life he promises.

Some have described this as a “second naivete.” You trust in Jesus more than ever before, but now you have a firm foundation for your trust. You trust the person, not some doctrine. You have worked your way through all the complications of discerning the truth about God and life, and you have landed on the other shore with a simple but unshakable trust in God through Christ.

That’s what deconstruction should be all about. Evangelicals oppose it for the same reason that they oppose any form of doubt. Doubt properly pursued leads to understanding. Deconstruction properly pursued leads to understanding, to profound trust in God, to the eternal life that Jesus promised we could enjoy starting right now if only we trust in him.

Socrates said the unexamined life was not worth living. Jesus said the truth will set you free. You’ll find the truth in Jesus, but you may have to examine your life to find him.

Apartheid is coming

Republican cancel culture (the original and only real kind) now targets books – specifically books that might be read by impressionable young readers, specifically any book that in any way challenges the rule of white supremacy and hints that people of color may have any legitimate role in society above that of servant or slave.

Maus, which concerns the Holocaust, is one of the latest targets. It concerns Jews, whom Republicans are more careful to delegitimize lest they lose votes in key elections.

But, as the recent episode with Whoopi Goldberg shows, race is a societal construct. It is only as real as the ruling society requires that it be. Just as the Nazis created the notion of a Jewish “race,” and set out to exterminate it, now Republicans are working to construct another “race,” and to make sure members of this group are never allowed in any position of power.

The key piece of this strategy is denying members of that “race” access to the ballot box. In Republican-led state after state, laws have been passed to make sure that fewer and fewer Black voters are allowed to vote, either through ballot restrictions or gerrymandering.

Some observers connect this to Trump’s lies about losing the 2020 election. Republicans are obsessed with “election security.” But in the Republican playbook, a “secure election” is one in which certain people cannot vote.

Trump is just the smokescreen. This is a strategy planned long ago. And its goal is apartheid.

It has long been known that “white” people soon will be in a minority in this country, compared with people of color. What will happen to whites when they are in the minority rather than the majority?

Nothing will happen – if laws can be passed now to make sure that the new majority cannot have any influence on public policy. Nothing will happen to whites if they make sure that no matter how small a minority they become, they are always still in power because of laws they passed now, while they are still a narrow majority.

So in the next five to ten years, we will see more and more attempts by Republicans to restrict Black voters especially, but also Hispanic voters and others deemed unacceptable – Democrats, say.

Republicans will never be so brazen (that is, honest) as to pass a law that says Democrats cannot vote. But they will gerrymander and otherwise rig all future elections so that Democrats can never be in the majority anywhere, and therefore that the Republican program of erecting an apartheid society can be enacted.

You scoff. Scoff now, while scoffing is still legal. Read Maus now, while it’s still legal. A day of reckoning is coming, unless Americans of integrity arise and stop the GOP plan to make a new Amerika, an apartheid state.

Go, Gu!

Eileen Gu has taken a lot of abuse for deciding to ski for China, where her mother was born, rather than the United States, where she and her family live, in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

To my knowledge she has never publicly explained why she decided not to ski for the U.S. But no explanation would satisfy her critics.

Most of what I have seen about her on social media is hateful and obscene. You might consider these folks the usual pack of idiots, except that the pack seems to keep getting larger and louder, and that in itself is a troubling development.

Gu doesn’t represent China any more than she represents the U.S. She represents herself, in some ways a product of both cultures. She is trying to stand above all the usual political nonsense we slap over what is supposed to be a showcase of athletic performance. So she stands for what the Olympics are supposed to stand for, not what we have made of it.

Here is one thing she has said in her defense:

“I’m not trying to keep anyone happy. I’m an 18-year-old girl trying to live my best life. I know that I have a good heart and know that my reasons are for the common interest and greater good.

“No matter what I say, if people don’t have a good heart, they won’t believe me because they can’t empathize with people who do have a good heart. So in that sense, I feel as though it’s a lot easier to block out the hate now.

“If people don’t believe me and people don’t like me, that’s their loss. And also, they’re never going to know what it feels like to win the Olympics.”

What a brave and insightful young woman!

There’s a huge hunk of truth in what she says. People who don’t have a good heart are never going to understand people who do have a good heart. They’re always going to hate because they always hate what they can’t understand – and truth be known, they don’t seem to understand much, or try to, so they hate much.

Hate is always folly, even when it fails to multiply. If you are a follower of Jesus, you don’t hate. If you do hate, you’re not a follower of Jesus. You follow another master. Simple as that.

All that is an elaborate way of saying: Go, Gu!